Government tightens legislative noose on foreign prisoners / FRFI 206 Dec 2008 / Jan 2009

FRFI 206 December 2008 / January 2009

On 1 August 2008 the section of the UK Borders Act 2007 which provides for ‘automatic deportation’ of ‘foreign criminals’ came into force and more legislation against foreign national prisoners is in the pipeline. These measures were introduced by the Labour government following the Tory and press outcry in April-May 2006 over the release of foreign national prisoners which led to the resignation of Home Secretary Charles Clarke. NICKI JAMESON reports.

Clarke was forced to admit that during the previous seven years 1,023 foreign national prisoners, who had completed their sentences, had been released without being considered for deportation. As FRFI wrote at the time: ‘The numbers concerned are in effect tiny – in the region of 90,000 people are released from prisons in England and Wales each year – and the danger to the public negligible, but it was more than enough for the government’s opponents and the press. Just before the local elections, for papers like the Daily Mail the combination of bogeymen was irresistible. Every attack on terrorists, asylum seekers, benefit scroungers, out-of-control youths, drug addicts, paedophiles and generalised low-life scum came together in a mighty cacophony of outrage against ‘foreign convicts’ and the soft Home Office that had let them out.’(See here)

Under the new law, non-European Economic Area (EEA) citizens who have been sentenced to a prison term of 12 months or more can now be automatically deported when their sentences end unless they can show that this would breach their rights under the Human Rights Act (HRA). This is not easy as many immigration judges take the stance that if someone with family in Britain is to be deported, their partner and children can move as well so their rights under Article 8 (family life) are not breached.

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Crisis at the Metropolitan Police: £300,000+ handshakes all round / FRFI 206 Dec 2008 / Jan 2009

FRFI 206 December 2008 / January 2009

Two senior police officers in the Metropolitan Police have departed their jobs in the middle of what everyone agrees is a crisis for policing in London. The Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, resigned before his contract ended claiming that Boris Johnson, the popinjay, old Etonian, Tory London mayor, had driven him out. Resignation or not, Sir Ian pocketed a large pay-off from taxpayers’ money on top of his pension. Britain’s top Asian policeman, Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, who sidled off a few days before Sir Ian clutching a fat cheque of his own, left having withdrawn a claim against his former boss for racism, promising to say no more.

In fact Mayor Johnson let the Commissioner off the hook. At the first meeting between Johnson and Blair after the Mayor took political control of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) in September 2008, Johnson made it clear he had no confidence in the Commissioner. Sir Ian grasped this straw and resigned, claiming constructive dismissal. He was facing a number of serious scandals and accusations alleging, in no particular order, gross incompetence, corruption and racism.

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INSIDE NEWS / FRFI 207 Feb / Mar 2009

FRFI 207 February / March 2009

Ronnie Easterbrook
On 22 January FRFI supporters joined Brighton ABC and the Friends of Ronnie Easterbrook outside the Ministry of Justice in London to show our solidarity with Ronnie, who, as we go to press is entering the sixth week of a hunger-strike.

Ronnie was sentenced to life for armed robbery and attempted murder in 1988 after a failed robbery on a supermarket wages van. A police informant set the job up and Ronnie and two others were ambushed by PT17, the elite tactical firearms unit. Tony Ash was shot dead, despite surrendering, and Ronnie, Gary Wilson and a police inspector all suffered gunshot wounds. Also lying in wait was a Thames TV crew, who captured the shoot-out on film.

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Prisoners’ rights under attack

Since Labour came to power in 1997 the prison population of England and Wales has increased from 61,000 to 81,748. The government has created more than 3,000 new criminal offences and totally changed the sentencing framework so that an unprecedented number of prisoners are serving indeterminate sentences. Britain has more life-sentenced prisoners than Germany, France, Russia and Turkey put together. The prison system is full to bursting and conditions are worsening. Prisoners have few legal tools with which to defend themselves but have at times been able to bring successful court actions against the prison system’s worst excesses. Labour’s Justice Minister Jack Straw and the Prison Officers’ Association want to stop them doing this. NICKI JAMESON reports.

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Licence to kill: Landmarks in the development of police powers to kill and get away with it

FRFI 207 February / March 2009

jcdm mural

The new Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson was appointed on 28 January promising to ‘convince all the communities of London that the Met is on their side’. His appointment followed the resignation of Sir Ian Blair in November 2008, who left under several looming clouds, not least the imminent verdict of the Jean Charles de Menezes inquest; allegations of racism from senior Asian police colleagues and a boycott by the Metropolitan Black Police Association; and an investigation into personal corruption.

The open verdict in the De Menezes inquest, which ended in December, proved to be the indictment of policing that Sir Ian Blair had feared. The jury were prevented from bringing a verdict of unlawful killing by a ruling of the coroner, but went as far as they could to point to the culpability of the police. The De Menezes family welcomed the verdict as at least some recognition of the circumstances of their son’s killing in Stockwell on 22 July 2005. But the family did not receive justice and they stand in a long line of families who have been on the receiving end of the development of police tactics to deal with political opponents, tactics which include murder and brutality.

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  1. Law and order